In today’s job market, it seems like every job opening has twenty folks applying, or that entry level jobs require five years’ experience, or that your resume is simply getting lost in a sea of people with similar experience and qualifications. How do you craft a strong resume to stand out from other job seekers? Check out these tips I’ve learned from editing resumes on a weekly basis, interviewing job candidates, and other professionals.
Clean design gets you noticed.
We aren’t all designers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lovely resume. When employers receive fifteen resumes that are all black and white with similar fonts, nobody grabs their attention at first. Why not utilize that knowledge to craft a strong resume design to stand out?
You could hire a freelance designer, but if you’re a DIY person with a knack for programs like Word, Google Docs, or Photoshop, you can have a go at customizing a template. Something as simple as adding a bit of color to your name and job titles will grab a reader’s attention.
Google Docs has a great template called “Spearmint” that features color, while websites like Canva has free resume designs that are far more bold.
Use keywords from job listings.
If you’re applying for a job as a software programmer and the job listing notes Java, HTML, JQuery, and SQL, it’s essential that you include those words in your resume. If a potential employer can’t find their key words/requirements in your resume, they’re less likely to consider you for employment.
Companies will have similar job listings for identical/similar positions, but read each posting carefully and search for keywords. There may be minor differences, but make sure each resume reflects each job listing accurately.
Explain past responsibilities.
When you’re writing a strong resume, you need to explain your past responsibilities. If you’re applying to be a contributor on a popular blog, simply saying “managed content calendar” as part of past experiencing isn’t going to cut it. So what? Who cares?
Weak: Managed content calendar.
Strong: Managed content calendar to ensure timely completion and publication of assignments.
See what I did there? You simply need to add a “so what” to each bullet. Why does that responsibility matter and how would it benefit the employer?
Once you know to add that statement, sprucing up your resume becomes pretty easy!
Final actions before sending your resume.
One not-so-obvious thing to keep in mind is that resume don’t have to be a single page. It’s generally acceptable to have a two page resume, but don’t overload information. If you have over 10 years’ experience, highlight your three most recent positions and the responsibilities associated with each, and for older positions, just list the position without further detail. When you land an interview, you’ll probably be asked about those older positions, but employers care more about your recent experience.
Some of these things will go without saying, but here’s a quick checklist to run through before you submit a resume:
- Run spell check and proofread.
- Make sure you’re sending it to the right person.
- If you include the company’s name, double-check it’s the right company.